We Are One – A Global Film Festival

The We Are One festival, which took place online from May 29 to June 7 2020, was organised by YouTube to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts around the world. Multiple international film festivals – such as Cannes, Venice, and BFI London Film Festival – curated their own programmes of feature films, shorts, panel events and more, which were screened for free on YouTube.

Here are six of the best short films shown at the festival:

Bilby (Annecy International Animation Film Festival) Directed by Liron Topaz, Pierre Perifel and JP Sans

Set in the Australian Outback, the film centres around a solitary bilby (a type of marsupial) who reluctantly becomes the guardian of an abandoned albatross chick.

Produced by the recently founded short film programme at DreamWorks Animation, it has everything you would expect from the studio: clean and crisp animation, a touching story, and animals cute enough to warm the coldest of hearts. Its conclusion is particularly moving and is sure to bring a tear to the eye.

The short was based on a feature-length musical comedy called Larrikins, which was set to be directed by Tim Minchin and Steve Miller and star the likes of Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, and Ben Mendelsohn, but was cancelled by DreamWorks in March 2017. Here’s hoping Bilby will one day get the feature-length treatment it deserves.

Bilby is featured on the home release of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Blood Rider (We Are One Film Festival) Directed by Jon Kasbe

Racing through the busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria are blood riders: men who deliver vital supplies of blood to hospitals in need by motorbike. They must travel quickly and safely, knowing which route to the hospital is best, often while negotiating rush-hour traffic jams. It is, quite literally, a matter of life or death; patients will lose their lives if the riders don’t reach the hospitals in time.

Blood Rider follows Joseph, a man who is called to deliver blood to a hospital where Deborah, a pregnant woman, is undergoing a complicated C-section. The film also gives us a glimpse of Joseph and Deborah’s personal lives, as Joseph talks to friends about the work he does, and Deborah prepares to go into hospital to give birth.

The short is incredibly well put-together, with stunning cinematography and a gorgeous score. It sheds light on an important cause that few may know about, and leaves you feeling just a little bit better about the world.

When I Write It (Tribeca Film Festival) Directed by Nico Opper and Shannon St. Aubin

When I Write It is a beautiful snapshot of the lives of two artistic Black teenagers living in Oakland, California. The documentary follows Leila Mottley and Ajai Kasim as they bike around the sunny city, talking about relationships, gentrification, and the importance of their art.

We catch glimpses of them rehearsing and performing poetry and music with their friends, the camera observing them unobtrusively. It’s a fantastic slice-of-life piece that feels completely genuine and natural, with the teens seemingly leading the narrative and having the freedom to do and talk about what matters most to them.

No More Wings (Tribeca Film Festival) Directed by Abraham Adeyemi

No More Wings is a tender portrait of two friends from South London meeting up at their favourite fried chicken joint and talking about their different lives. Isaac (Ivanno Jeremiah) is a successful businessman about to move away to the east of the city, but his childhood friend Jude (Parys Jordon) doesn’t understand why he would want to leave home.

The story is interspersed with scenes from their youth at the exact same chicken shop, their different attitudes to school and grades laid bare. Isaac wanted to keep his head down and ace his GCSEs, but Jude was a wide-eyed dreamer with ambitions of being an MC.

Their contrasting personalities have carried through into adulthood, but they’re ultimately supportive of one another. It’s a simple concept but rich in story and detail, and it leaves you feeling like you really know these characters after just ten minutes.

Cru – Raw (Tribeca Film Festival) Directed by David Oesch

Starting in medias res, Cru – Raw throws us right into the heat of a high-end restaurant kitchen during a busy dinner service. Jeanne (Jeanne Werner) is a new cook under immense pressure to make a good impression on her boss (Malika Kathir), a stern, no-nonsense chef with her eye on perfection. Think Gordon Ramsey but without the witty remarks.

It’s a tense, unrelenting short that perfectly captures the kitchen’s pressure cooker atmosphere, with an unpredictable twist that’s both disturbing and brilliant.

Shannon Amen (Annecy International Animation Film Festival) Directed by Chris Dainty

Shannon Amen is a moving tribute to director Chris Dainty’s friend Shannon Jamieson, who died by suicide in 2006. The film tells of Shannon’s struggle of being gay while living in an unaccepting Christian community. As well as featuring Shannon’s own music, art and writing, Dainty uses a mixture of animation techniques to portray moments in her life. In one of his own techniques, which he calls ‘icemation’, he animates figures and objects made of ice using stop-motion and puppetry. Explaining his reason for using ice, Dainty said that its “beautiful yet fragile” nature captured Shannon’s essence.

Interspersed with the animation are photos and videos of Shannon, which adds a layer of intimacy and serves as a reminder of the film’s harsh reality. It’s an incredibly textured piece – as beautiful as it is tragic.